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Structure of animal mitochondrial dna base composition pyrimidine sequences and nature of methylation



Structure of animal mitochondrial dna base composition pyrimidine sequences and nature of methylation



Molekulyarnaya Biologiya (Moscow) 10(4): 868-878



The base composition, amount of different pyrimidine isopliths and the methylation degree of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA) from different vertebrates and the protozoon Crithidia oncopelti were studied. mtDNA from mammals (ox, rat) do not differ in GC-content from the respective nDNA. The GC-content in mtDNAs from fishes (sheat-fish) and birds (duck and chicken) is 1.5-2.5 mol% higher than in the respective nDNA. Kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) from C. oncopelti (GC-content = 42.9 mol%) differs significantly in base composition from nDNA (GC = 51.3 mol%). All mtDNA from the vertebrates and kDNA from C. oncopelti possess a lower degree of pyrimidine clustering compared with nDNA. The amount of mono- and dipyrimidine fragments in mtDNA and kDNA is more than 30 mol%, whereas in nDNA it is not more than 23 mol%. The quantity of long pyrimidine clusters (hexa- and others) in mtDNA is 2-5 times lower than in nDNA. The lower degree of clustering of pyrimidine nucleotides may be a specific feature of the mtDNA studies. It may be indicative of common traits in the organization and origin of mtDNA. All mtDNA of vertebrates contain 5-methylcytosine (MC) as a minor base (1.5-3.15 mol%), so that methylation degree of cytosine residues within is about 1.5-2.0 times higher than within the respective nDNA. In animals the methylation of mtDNA is species-specific. The character of distribution of MC in pyrimidine isopliths in mtDNA and nDNA is quite different. This may mean that the specificity of DNA methylation in nuclei and mitochondria is different. A DNA-methylase activity was detected in mitochondria from rat liver and beef heart. The enzyme was capable of methylating in vitro the cytosine residues in homologous and various heterologous DNA. Enzymes obtained from nuclei and mitochondria methylate in vitro one and the same heterologous DNA of Escherichia coli B in a different fashion. The mitochondrial enzyme methylates in this DNA cytosine residues predominantly in mono-, but the nuclear one, in di- and tripyrimidine fragments. Thus, nuclear and mitochondrial enzymes recognize in DNA different nucleotide sequences.

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